The Book of 1 John: A Road Map to Holiness
by John Duncan
The book of 1 John is a
road map to Holiness. Ironically, one of the main verses used to defend
"sinning Christianity" comes from this book (1 John 1:8) while all its
other verses teaching holiness are ignored. Some people just have a
misunderstanding on these verses, while others have a vested interest in
believing in "sinning Christianity:" they hope to condone their own sinful
lifestyles with the Bible.
To come to a good
understanding on any given doctrine, we must study all the verses of the
Bible dealing with that subject, especially within that same book. The
next step is to figure out what all these verses mean when put together.
It is imperative to let the Bible interpret the Bible. I like to think of
studying the Scriptures as we would draw a card from a deck of cards, one
truth at a time. I will use this "deck of cards" illustration to explain
Let us first examine the
controversial Scripture, 1 John 1:8-9:
"If we say
that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we CONFESS our sins, he is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
A. 1st Card - No
one can claim to be without sin (1 John 1:8).
B. 2nd Card - The
very next verse (1 John 1:9) says that He will purify us from ALL
unrighteousness. If ALL unrighteousness is gone, how many is left? Zero.
If I have 5 grains of
sand on my hand and I blow them ALL off, how many are left? Zero. If I
wash the dishes and I take ALL the grease out, how much grease is left?
C. 3rd Card - We
are faced with a contradiction: Card #1 and Card #2 seem to
convey opposite truths. On one hand, Card #1 says that you can not
"claim to be without sin" but on the other, Card #2 says that you can
have "all unrighteousness" cleansed, therefore leaving you with no sin
remaining. Can you "not claim to be without sin" and yet have no sin
Something happened in
between verses 8 and 9. Look carefully above. It is called "confession"
(caps, underlined). You cannot say that you have no sin before
confessing them to Christ (repentance). I have witnessed to people who
thought that they were good people and that they never sinned their
whole lives. Therefore, since they thought they did not need Jesus,
confession and repentance was not even an option for them.
D. 4th Card - The
very next verse further clarifies it for us: "If we say that we have
not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John
1:10). We make Him a liar if we say that we have never sinned,
because "all have sinned." That's why we need to be saved.
Let's go back a couple of
verses to get the context (1 John 1:6-7):
"If we say that we have
fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not
the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have
fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin."
E. 5th Card - We
can't walk in darkness (sin) and have fellowship with God (v. 6).
Furthermore, if we say that we have fellowship with Him - If we call
ourselves Christians - and live in sin, we lie and do not the truth.
Right here you can see that "sinning Christianity" is a false
F. 6th Card - If
we walk in the light (truth), the blood of Jesus cleanses from ALL sin
(v. 7). Again, ALL means ALL. If ALL sin is cleansed, how much is left?
The next verse further
shows us that we are NOT to expect sinning:
children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And
IF any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous:" (1 John 2:1).
What is the Apostle John's
purpose to writing these things? (answer above)
A. That you may sin
B. That you may NOT sin
If you correctly answered
"b," which interpretation of 1 John 1:8 is in more harmony with John's
goal for writing this letter?
Also note that 1 John 2:1
says "if," not "when" (underlined and capitalized above).
Let me ask you a couple of questions:
1. "IF I have a
car wreck today, I hope not to get hurt." Is this car wreck:
b. a possibility
2. "WHEN I drop a
ball, it will fall to the ground." Is the law of gravity:
b. a possibility
Likewise, 1 John 2:1 shows
us clearly that sinning is a possibility in a Christian's life ("IF
any man sin..."), but not an inevitable event (not "WHEN any
man sin..."). 1 John 1:8 shows us that sinning is inevitable in a sinner's
life (before confession and salvation).
I am not claiming to be
"without sin." I used to be a drunkard, a fornicator, etc., before I got
saved. But after I confessed my sins to Jesus and was born-again, I was
cleansed of all sin. Now, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of
God, I am "walking in the light, as He is in the light," and the blood of
Jesus Christ "cleanses me from ALL sin." I am not expecting to sin, but IF
I sin, I have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, and I am no
longer "walking in darkness."
To say that 1 John 1:8
means what most modern-day professing "Christians" say that it means is
bogus. If you look at the whole context, it CAN NOT mean that we are
always going to sin. The verse in itself is sandwiched between verses that
teach the exact opposite!!!
If you read on into this
book of 1 John, you will find out some radical statements against "sinning
Christianity" such as:
- 1 John 2:3-6: "And
hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a
liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word,
in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are
in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk,
even as he walked."
- 1 John 2:29 "If ye
know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth
righteousness is born of him."
- 1 John 3:4-10:
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the
transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take
away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth
not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
Little children, LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU: he that doeth righteousness is
righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of
the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this
purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works
of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for
his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil:
whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that
loveth not his brother."
- 1 John 5:2-3 "By this we
know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his
commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his
commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
The apostle John warned these
early Christians to LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU! (1 John 3:7). The reason for
such admonition is that John knew that deception was coming our way. My
friend, that deception is here in our day.
Modern-day false doctrines:
- We all sin everyday in "word, thought, or
- No one can stop sinning, even with the grace and
with the help
- We are only humans and humans sin.
- We all sin every day.
Free .pdf tract format of this article:
Please feel free to share our videos, audios, pictures, and
tracts. We simply ask that the materials be used in unaltered form and our
contact information remain visible.
If this article was a blessing to you, please let